At 94, CPI veteran Nallakannu finds new home in rented house

Nallakannu in the K K Nagar house.

Chennai: Veteran Communist Party of India (CPI) leader R Nallakannu, who moved from CIT Nagar to K K Nagar, hopes that the State government will allot him a house.

Speaking to News Today, Nallakannu said Deputy Chief O Panneerselvam had spoken to him and said since the Model Code of Conduct was in force, the government could not take any decision and once it is lifted, they would do the needful.

Since 2007, Nallakannu had been staying in a house allotted by the Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) at CIT Nagar, under the direction of the then chief minister M Karunanidhi.

“I was paying rent for the house. When I moved here, I paid Rs 3,700 and it’s Rs 5,700 now. I was upset when I was asked to vacate. The authorities said under the city development plan, they were demolishing the houses and constructing new ones. I asked time till 15 May. However, I vacated the house 10 May, and I am staying with my daughter, Dr Andal, in a rented house at K K Nagar,” he said.

Nallakannu has another daughter, Kasi Bharathi, a retired school headmistress, and his wife Ranjitham pre-deceased him.

The 94-year-old requested the government to allot a house to the family members of former State minister P Kakkan, who were also asked to vacate from CIT Nagar. “Former Chief Minister M G Ramachandran allotted the house to Kakkan. The government should make alternative arrangements for his family,” he said.

A total of 119 houses were constructed in 1953 at CIT Nagar. In 2011, after the houses were deemed to be unfit for occupation, the housing board sent notice to all 119 inmates, asking them to vacate. The issue went to Madras High Court and after multiple petitions, the court finally declared those residing should vacate.

“Under government rules, while the authorities are vacating people from a particular locality staying for a long time, they should be allotted houses within 4-km radius, considering their place of work and children’s education. Shifting them to the outskirts would not help them and the government should consider this angle,” Nallakannu said.

The veteran Communist leader is an avid reader. He had a huge collection of books at his house at CIT Nagar. People from various walks of life would step into his house and take books for reference. A log book would be maintained and they would return the book.

Asked whether he had shifted all his books to K K Nagar, the senior leader said, “During 2015 floods, I lost some books. When I was about to vacate the house at CIT Nagar, I gave a major part of my collection to New Century Book House. Now, I have only a few reference books of Communist leaders, Tamil literature and collection of poems by Bharathidasan and Bharathiar.’

At 94, the veteran leader is not idle. He keeps reading and people come and meet him regularly.

Karthikeyan Halan